As all those who follow watches will know, this week will be a very important one for the Swiss watch industry as Geneva Watch Days is due to take place: the sole watch show in Switzerland this year. Whilst we will, no doubt, see plenty of extremely exciting watches, there remains one key question: do we still need watch fairs?
It would be very fair to say that 2020 has been a year to forget and the same is true for the watch industry. With sales in all markets aside from China considerably down as regional lockdowns come to a close, the long-term impact on an industry requiring worldwide manufacturing to exist remains unknown. Perhaps the most tangible change to the watch world, however, was the almost complete removal of trade shows from an industry based largely upon human contact. The situation was further worsened by the demise of Baselworld amidst widely-held criticism from exhibitors of the show’s management.
From the ashes of these trade shows, however, rose Geneva Watch Days. Originally planned for late April but postponed until this week, this show will take a decentralised form to give exhibiting brands the chance to showcase their new products whilst observing safety measures required in a post-COVID-19 world. If successful, this may present the future of watch conventions and give greater value-for-money for visiting enthusiasts.
What can we expect?
A very different experience to Baselworld and SIHH / Watches & Wonders. In the past, for a casual visitor, horological trade shows were perhaps the least welcoming you could find. The entry fee (if available at all for an outsider) was astronomical, the nearby accommodation entirely unaffordable and the view of new watches so limited as to reduce one to squinting through plate glass. Of course, handing out watches to the near 100,000 visitors of Baselworld at its peak would have been unmanageable yet greater involvement for enthusiasts was desperately needed.
Whilst still restricted by appointments and without major players Rolex and Patek Philippe (their presence in Geneva will begin next year), a format using various spaces around the city should give more time with the watches we are so keen to see. The Swatch Group remains a notable absence yet the brands present represent some of the more individual and unusual offerings of this industry. In effect, exactly the brands for which a hands-on look is a must. The brands present are listed below.
- De Bethune
- Gerald Genta
- H. Moser & Cie.
- Ulysse Nardin
- Ferdinand Berthoud
- Louis Moinet
- Maurice Lacroix
The Imminent Highlights
Given the high number of imaginative and unconventional brands present, I am invariably excited for the releases of MB&F, H. Moser & Cie. and Ferdinand Berthoud – a brand which has shown spectacular watchmaking in recent weeks. From MB&F, we are due to see a piece simply called ‘Trinity’ and from H. Moser & Cie. we will be presented with a new version of the Streamline: a watch which redefined the brand earlier this year.
Elsewhere, Maurice Lacroix may show a path for affordable horology in a mix of ultra-high-end watchmaking whilst, predictably, the eyes of afficionados are turned to a brand which isn’t even present: Rolex.
Between the first and fourth of September, Rolex will be announcing their releases for 2020 including those originally due to be released at Baselworld. Whilst rumours abound, a new Rolex Submariner seems to be a very likely addition after hints revealed by the brand itself.
Throughout this week, find the most interesting, exciting and important releases cherrypicked for you here on WATCH CHRONICLER. This weekend, you will be able to enjoy a very special episode on our YouTube channel to cover the highlights of this irregular and, as a result, unpredictable show.